Yesterday I lazed around the pool, and took advantage of my last day of luxury, before i hit the Mekong discovery trail around Kratie.
I got a $5 mani/pedi at the night market, (and an additional pair of pants, for $5, looked comfy for cycling)
after going to the Apsara dance show at Koulen II restaurant…
Which I found really entertaining. The buffet ($12 not including drink – bring your own drink as they are ridiculously overpriced!) had a lot of choices, and ingredients were listed for the majority of items (aside from the desserts, which were totally foreign to me and didn’t have any sort of name card), which is awesome for vegetarians.. But the food quality wasn’t great, I’m not picky and I wasn’t a fan of anything I had (3 plates worth of trying). I’d suggest getting there around 630pm, it got packed and majority of food had run out by 8. Reserve online via their website as far in advance as possible, to ensure a good seat by the dancers.
After seeing the show, I browsed the night market before getting on the night bus to Phnom Penh.
Advice for those Doing One Day at Angkor Wat Temples
Rent a tuktuk for $15 or less – try to find 3 other people to split with you. Your guesthouse can help you organize this, or ask the guy who drops you off from the bus station. Having someone who speaks decent English is really helpful.
Be picked up at 5am – its early, but worth it! For 3 reasons: You want to beat the heat, see the sunrise, AND get as much temple-touring in as possible.
Your tuktuk will take you to get your temple pass, $20 for one day
Start at sunrise at Angkor Wat. Cliche, and packed with tourists, but the lighting at that time is amazing.
Have breakfast at Restaurant 6 in the Angkor Wat compound – everything only $2! Ana who runs it is awesome and will take TONS of photos of you in front of Angkor Wat. She’s great, helpful, and speaks excellent English. She also has an adorable puppy named Bobo.
Continue onto other nearby big name temples: Angkor Thom, Bayon, and Ta Prohm.
Have lunch in the shade. I’d suggest bringing lunch with you, or getting takeaway from Ana’s. Anywhere your tuktuk takes you will be overpriced, more like $5 and up. Not good quality for the money. Finish up with Ta Keaw or any of the other outlying temples, then head home for a nap by the pool!
I can remember seeing the miniature Angkor at the temple in Bangkok, when I was only 4 days into my trip, almost three months ago. I said “I’ll go there, someday..” Wistfully, because I thought it’d be years or a lifetime away.
Getting up at 5am to see Angkor Wat felt like a dream.
I had shivers and even felt slightly sick, I was so excited.
It was amazing. (for more information on Siem Reap and Angkor Wat, click here)
After a full day of wat-filled sight-seeing, I switched hostels. European was great but I really, really craved some water. I checked into Jasmine ($8 a night AC dorm with big free breakfast and a pool!) and chilled by the pool before heading back to European to have dinner with my British friends before the girls headed to Sihanoukville on the night bus and David and I hit Pub Street with 2 more British people we met at European (so many Brits!!)
Pub Street is the center of Siem Reap night life, though to me it feels like Cambodia’s answer to Khao San Road – gimmicky and touristy. BUT sometimes, that’s exactly what one wants.
Happy three month anniversary to me!
January 25th I landed in Bangkok and began my love affair with southeast Asia.
Now, I’m celebrating by taking a holiday to Cambodia, where I’ll do more than a simple visa run this time (technically I’ve been to the country twice already, though once was just to cross the border and go back, and another I was in Phnom Penh for less than 24 hours).
It feels strange to travel again after 2 weeks of staying in one spot, as Bangkok already really feels like home. As much as I love the city, and feel so comfortable here now, I know it’s so important to continue on, get out in the world again and out of my comfort zone.
The morning van to Cambodia from Khao San Road will pick you up from your hostel and take you right outside Siem Reap for only 300 baht. It leaves at 7am and supposedly will get you to Siem Reap before dark.. but expect to arrive around 8pm or later.
Before boarding the bus, I said goodbye to Suneta Hostel, my home for the past week or so.
As usual I met some awesome people on the van – including 2 Canadians backpacking and then getting married on the islands in two weeks and some amazing Brits traveling at only 18.
For the first time in my experience, the Cambodian border was (relatively) painless and quick. Instead of spending hours sweating my butt off in the Thai exit line, Cambodian visa line, and Cambodian entrance line, I literally walked on through in less than an hour. There was barely anyone crossing through! Oh, the joys of low season!!
We had an eventful bus stop on the way from Poipet (Cambodian border town) to Siem Reap. Met the cutest girl who made bracelets on the spot for the girls in my group (shockingly, no money requested, though I did give her a bracelet of mine in exchange). When we boarded the bus to continue onto Siem Reap… it wouldn’t start. The bus driver asked a bunch of the people to get off and push. About 10 minutes later of pushing back and forth, and we were on our way!
We finally arrived in Siem Reap, and a $1 tuktuk later, I arrived at my hostel. I’m totally shocked at how nice it is! I had booked European Guest House through Agoda for only $5, very clean and with a great common area and cheap restaurant/bar. I am already surprised at the value for money here. I’ve stayed in much worse hostels for twice as much money in Thailand.
I’m heading to bed early tonight, as tomorrow I’m getting up at 5am to begin the Angkor Wat temple touring with a dawn start!!